A “once-off” HSE grant to Carrick-on-Suir Day Care Centre to support it while it finds an alternative means of providing meals to its clients has been dismissed as a “pittance” by a local councillor.
Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People, Mary Butler, announced the €10,000 meals grant for Carrick Day Care Centre in her recent controversial statement setting out in more detail the reasons for the closure of St Brigid’s Hospital.
Carrick-on-Suir Day Care Centre, founded in 1986, is located next to St Brigid’s Hospital and the three-course lunch meals it provided its clients five days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic were prepared at the hospital and delivered to the centre.
The Day Care Centre has been closed since the third week in March last year due to the pandemic as its clients are all people over the age of 70.
But it will reopen when it’s safe to do so when the pandemic abates following the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme nationwide.
Carrick-on-Suir Fianna Fáil Cllr Kieran Bourke has condemned the size and “once-off” nature of the grant.
He said the grant was just a “token” and a “pittance” that wouldn’t meet the costs of providing meals for the Day Care Centre’s clients or the residents of Ash Park homes for the elderly located next to the centre.
“I think the Day Care Centre and residents of Ash Park have been left in the lurch,” he declared.
“It’s a disgrace. The HSE should be ashamed of themselves. It’s another little chip away at the fabric of this town,” Cllr Bourke added.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Bourke, honorary treasurer of Carrick-on-Suir Day Care Centre, said the closure of St Brigid’s Hospital was a major loss to the Day Care Centre, which is currently exploring a number of different options to secure a new provider of the lunch meals for their clients when the centre reopens.
He confirmed the centre’s board of management will be seeking more funding from the HSE towards financing the three-course dinners.
He explained the Day Care Centre was a registered charity part funded annually by the HSE under Section 39 of the 2004 Health Act.
After receiving the news of the hospital’s closure, the centre’s board of management wrote to the HSE requesting an increase in its Section 39 funding and received this €10,000 “once-off” grant.
The centre’s board thanked the HSE for the grant, but Mr Bourke said it was insufficent to meet the costs of providing meals for their clients when the centre reopens.
He pointed out that the meals were particularly important for their clients who live alone.
He said the Day Care Centre, like all charities, can’t fundraise at the moment due to the pandemic.
The centre was “going to have severe problems” if it didn’t get an increase to its supplementary funding from the HSE, he added.